TOPEKA – Kansas gained 2,000 non-farm jobs in December as the unemployment rate held steady at 3.9 percent.
The Kansas Department of Labor said the state gained 9,400 private sector jobs over the past year.
While the figure represents an increase of 0.8 percent, it is well short of the per-year goal set by Gov. Sam Brownback of 25,000 jobs.
In his campaign, Brownback set the goal of gaining 25,000 private-sector jobs each year over the four years of his second term.
“As employers continue to demand Kansas labor, the State has set another record for most number of Kansans working and the unemployment rate matches levels from 2001,” Labor Secretary Lana Gordon said in a statement.
Non-farm jobs increased 6,900, or 0.5 percent since December 2014. Kansas gained 1,800 private sector jobs since November 2015. The figures are seasonally adjusted.
Initial claims for unemployment benefits were up in December, at 16,979 compared to 13,344 in November.
But they were down compared to December 2014, when 18,577 filed initial claims.
Continued claims were also up in December, at 66,444 compared to 63,370 in November. Continued claims were 97,398 in December 2014.
The labor department singled out three areas as boosting jobs figures.
“Significant growth in health care and social assistance jobs and continued growth in construction contributed to an overall gain of 1,800 private sector jobs for Kansas in December,” Emilie Doerksen, a labor economist with the Department of Labor, said in a statement.
She said the growth occurred despite a decrease in trade, transportation and utilities industries that resulted from lower-than-expected retail trade hiring.